Mushin had a single resource which was controlled by the general public and not by the state. This was urban real estate. Land and housing were investments leading to political, economic, and even social returns, and therefore throughout the metropolitan area and beyond, the ownership of urban property was highly valued. Nothing, wrote a Yoruba legal expert, attracted as much respect as owning a house; it was a necessary requirement for any claim of eminence or affluence in a community. 1 Yet the process of acquiring real estate was fraught with difficulties. In Lagos Colony, the political battle waged over property made it an all-consuming issue for more than a century. 2 Certainly it was the most sought-after resource in the Mushin area beginning in the 1940s and, as such, its acquisition engendered intense rivalries on the one hand, but gave rise to strong loyalties on the other, enmeshing individuals in the kinds of social relationships that were necessary for the building up of community groups. The people who were successful in securing property were a heterogeneous group but they were similar in one critical respect. Ownership set them apart from tenants to the extent that they occupied a privileged position in the urban social hierarchy.